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Fri 13 May 2016 | 07:46

Preview: Paris Sevens

Kurt Baker named as captain
Fri 13 May 2016 | 07:46

Preview: Paris Sevens

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With only three pools for the Rio showpiece, bandings can become very congested with top teams, making it even more difficult for sides to make  it to the play-offs.

The Springbok Sevens team are determined to keep their hopes alive to win the overall  World Rugby Sevens Series.

The South Africans are currently second on the overall log and eight points behind Fiji in first place. 

A title win in Paris for the Springbok Sevens team, and an early Cup exit for Fiji, could put the Blitzboks right back in contention. 

That will mean a very strong showing in the Stade Jean Bouin though, but according to Springbok Sevens captain, Philip Snyman, it is exactly what they are aiming towards.

“It is a massive honour to lead this team and we are keen to make the nation proud with our performances," said Snyman.

"We know we will have to be at our best,” said Snyman, who will be playing in his 36th tournament for South Africa.

"At this stage of the season teams know each other quite well and everybody knows it is going to be us who will have to beat Fiji for the overall title. 

"We certainly believe that, if we stick to our principles and processes, we can still catch them and win the series."

Coach Neil Powell believes there are more than just titles to be won from his team’s performances this weekend.

“It will give the players the opportunity to put up their hands for the final Olympic Games squad no doubt,” said Powell.

“But it also gives us an opportunity to improve on what we have done over the last couple of tournaments. 

"Hopefully we can keep our momentum and confidence going into the Olympics.”

“We were caught cold in Hong Kong recently in similar circumstances, when England outplayed us on the first day. 

"We recovered well over the next two days, but certainly don't want to fall in the same trap again, so our focus remains on England and the opening day.”

Kenya's first-ever tournament win at the 115th attempt in Singapore raised a few eyebrows ahead of the sport's debut at the Olympic Games in August, but Kenya stalwart Humphrey Kayange says the victory was a culmination of hard work and team cohesion.

"We always work hard behind the scenes, we are a tight group and it has been like that all year," said Kayange.

"We gel well and the win makes us more focused now, especially ahead of Rio, so that we always are in that position where we can win titles. We have spoken about medalling at the Olympic Games, and that is our ultimate goal.

"Singapore is testament to what we can achieve when we put our heads together as a unit. The win was very timely, it means we can go to Rio knowing what we have to do to win.

Heading into a tournament as the last winners is new territory for Kenya, but something that Kayange is relishing, despite the extra expectations.

"It is unfamiliar," he admitted.

"In terms of pressure, back home everyone is talking about another win, but we want to step back and just focus on the basics and our efforts but why not go out and put ourselves in a position in the quarters and who knows.

"Only four teams have won a Cup this season so to be in that group is great. 

"Lots of teams are competitive, but being in that four is amazing, and you look back at the work you do as a team and what we achieved is amazing. 

"We will keep those memories and that feeling but we know what it takes to win it. 

"It was a bit more than just normal training, it comes from inner spirit and that is what we want to keep building."

Series leaders, Fiji, will be looking to defend their series title and win a third in 17 years, also providing momentum as they bid to win a first Olympic medal for their country in August.

"Fiji has not won an Olympic medal before, so maybe now will be our chance," Samisoni Viriviri, who has been named in Fiji’s training squad for the last two rounds of the World Rugby Sevens Series.

“It is a really special moment for Sevens, the Olympic Games is like a dream. 

"To be able to play there would be amazing and a special feeling. 

"It would be the first time that sevens will be a part of it and we’d be making history.”

Fiji top the standings with 147 points, followed by South Africa with 139 and New Zealand with 135.

Australia occupy the fouth spot with 115 points, while the United States round off the top five spots with 95.

Pools: 

Pool A: Kenya, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia
Pool B: Fiji, Samoa, Scotland, Wales
Pool C: South Africa, Australia, England, Brazil
Pool D: Argentina, France, USA, Canada

Schedule – Friday, May 13
(Kick-off time is local – GMT plus two hours)

Kenya v Portugal – 19.00
New Zealand v Russia – 19.22
Fiji v Scotland – 19.44
Samoa v Wales – 20.02
Argentina v USA – 20.28
France v Canada – 20.50
South Africa v England 21.12
Australia v Brazil – 21.34

Schedule – Saturday, May 14
(Kick-off time is local – GMT plus two hours)

Kenya v Russia – 10.30
New Zealand v Portugal – 10.52
Fiji v Wales – 11.14
Samoa v Scotland – 11.36
Argentina v Canada – 11. 58
France v USA – 12.20
South Africa v Brazil – 12.42
Australia v England – 13.04
Portugal v Russia – 13.41
Kenya v New Zealand – 14.03
Scotland v Wales – 14.25
Fiji v Samoa – 14.47
USA v Canada – 15.09
Argentina v France – 15.31
England v Brazil – 15.53
South Africa v Australia – 16.45

Schedule – Sunday, May 15

Bowl quarterfinals:
(Kick-off time is local – GMT plus two hours)

3rd Pool A v 4th Pool D – 09.45
3rd Pool C v 4th Pool B – 10.07
3rd Pool D v 4th Pool A – 10.29
3rd Pool B v 4th Pool C – 10.51

Cup quarterfinals:

1st Pool A v 2nd Pool D – 11.13
1st Pool C v 2nd Pool B – 11.35
1st Pool D v 2nd Pool A – 11.57
1st Pool B v 2nd Pool C – 12.19

Shield:

Semifinal One – 12.51
Semifinal Two – 13.13
 
Bowl:

Semifinal One – 13.35
Semifinal Two – 13.57

Plate:

Semifinal One – 14.19
Semifinal Two – 14.41

Cup:

Semifinal One – 15.03
Semifinal Two – 15.25

Shield Final – 16.17
Bowl Final – 16.45
Plate Final – 17.13
Third/Fourth playoff – 17.41
Cup Final – 18.15

PV: 2
Preview: Paris Sevens | Rugby365